Poem – NEVER KNOWING WHAT HIT (By Ray Gallucci)
NEVER KNOWING WHAT HIT
(Based on the painting [above] by Danell Millsap of the Scotch Cap Tsunami at Unimak Island, Alaska, on the night of April 1, 1946, where all five Coast Guardsmen manning the lighthouse were killed [see www.semparpac.org/tsunami.jpg])
I ponder the Scotch Cap Tsunami
And wonder just how it felt
When impact dismembered your body
From killer wave spawned in hell.
One instant you had an existence,
A presence in time and place.
Then noise you’d first heard from a distance
Smashed suddenly in your face.
Unless you looked out of a window,
What inkling of what to come?
A mountain foreshortening beam glow
Where you were expecting none?
Positioned far up from the shoreline
On headland, what need you fear
When never had ocean aforetime
Encroached even slightly near?
How could you conceive of an earthquake
Collapsing the ocean floor
And making a column of sea shake
Unnoticeably far from shore?
Though earthquake had jostled the lighthouse,
Foundation of rock stood firm.
Would take more than trembler to beam douse.
So to your routine returned.
But that perturbation of water
Was rapidly racing toward
Your fortress above the sea’s border
While climbing to height absurd.
If in the beam’s brilliance you noticed
Phenomenon rarely seen –
The ocean retreating, exposing
Its bottom, what did it mean?
Perhaps only minutes to scramble
To cliff top above the light.
And if you had taken that gamble,
Might you have survived that night?
But likely you only heard rumbling
Crescending as closer drew
Until from the night sky came tumbling
The Death that you never knew.
Your building of concrete and girders
Was flattened when hammer struck.
Its beacon a victim of murder.
Its tenants reduced to muck.
When try to your own death imagine,
The mind boggles the attempt.
For once you lose bodily function,
There’s nothing with which you’re left.
Religious say spirit continues,
And many on such depend.
But once lose your flesh, bones and sinews,
It’s possible you just end.
I cannot envision not living.
As long as I think, I am.
Impossible being a nothing,
For if I can’t think, what then?
I am a Professional Engineer who has been writing poetry since 1990. I am an incorrigible rhymer, tending toward the skeptical/cynical regarding daily life. I have been fortunate to have been published in poetry magazines and on-line journals such as NUTHOUSE, MOTHER EARTH INTERNATIONAL, FEELINGS/POETS’ PAPER, MÖBIUS (when Jean Hull Herman published), PABLO LENNIS, MUSE OF FIRE, SO YOUNG!, THE AARDVARK ADVENTURER, POETIC LICENSE, THUMBPRINTS, UNLIKELY STORIES, BIBLIOPHILOS, FULLOSIA PRESS, NOMAD’S CHOIR, HIDDEN OAK, PABLO LENNIS, POETSESPRESSO, SOUL FOUNTAIN, WRITER’S JOURNAL, ATLANTIC PACIFIC PRESS, DERONDA REVIEW, LYRIC, THE STORYTELLER, WRITE ON! and DANA LITERARY SOCIETY.